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Concierges' Guide to London: Culture & Diversions: Classic London Destinations

Compiled by Lisa Sweetingham, Jennifer Ryan, Bruce Wallin, and Amanda Millin

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ALL ENGLISH LAWN TENNIS CLUB (WIMBLEDON) “You can play” at the world’s most famous tennis venue. “It’s not easy. It’s not something that’s advertised. But you can do it.” (MW, ST) +44.20.8944.1066, www.wimbledon.org

BRITISH MUSEUM “One of the greatest museums in the world.” Period. (MDC, BM, CS) +44.20.7323.8299, www.britishmuseum.org

BUCKINGHAM PALACE Official London residence of the Queen offers public access to the Queen’s gallery and Royal Mews, as well as tours of the State Rooms, which are “definitely worth a look.” Check about private evening tours, culminating in a Champagne toast. (AD, CS) +44.20.7766.7300, www.royalcollection.org.uk

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW The Royal Horticultural Society’s annual flower show. “If guests want to go to the first day, or to the dinner that’s normally attended by the Queen, we always find a way to get those tickets.” May 24–28, 2011. (MDC) +44.12.1767.4063, www.rhs.org.uk

HYDE PARK Miles of walking and equestrian trails, stables that “cater to the whole family,” “great” tennis facilities, and much more. (AD, AH, BM, GM, CS, MW) +44.20.7298.2000, www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde_park/; Hyde Park Stables, +44.20.7723.2813, www.hydeparkstables.com

LONDON EYE Giant Ferris wheel with glass capsules, or pods, that offer 360-degree views of the city during a single rotation that takes about 30 minutes. Check with your concierge about arranging “a private pod.” (BM) +44.87.1781.3000, www.londoneye.com

MUSEUM OF LONDON One of the world’s largest urban-history museums provides “a thousand years of London’s history in a single afternoon.” (GM) +44.20.7001.9844, www.museumoflondon.org.uk

NATIONAL THEATRE South Bank theater’s guided backstage tours are a “don’t miss” for any theater buff. (GM) +44.20.7452.3000, www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM Famous museum is a “marvelous” venue for private events. “Remember the movie Night at the Museum? Imagine a gala dinner with a 150-foot dinosaur in the center of the room.” (MB, GM) +44.20.7942.5000, www.nhm.ac.uk

PARLIAMENT Tours of the Houses of Parliament “are not really advertised, but they’re worth checking out.” Your concierge may be able to organize a private tour outside of visiting hours. (AD, GM, CS) www.parliament.uk

THE REGENT'S PARK English gardens, herbaceous borders, 400 varieties of roses, and a “famous” outdoor theater are a few of the highlights at this park in the heart of London. (BM, GM) +44.20.7486.7905, www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/regents_park

ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, KEW “Just outside of London, and on the way to Heathrow,” this 300-acre garden and scientific institution features a “beautiful collection of plants and trees” and “spectacular” greenhouses. Flower shows and concerts beckon in the warmer months, but “whatever the weather, it always looks beautiful.” (MB, MDC, AD, BM, GM, ST) +44.20.8332.5655, www.kew.org

ST. JAMES'S PARK This park near Buckingham Palace includes a lake, a “secret” playground, a café, and The Mall, which serves as the Queen’s ceremonial route from the palace. But mostly it’s “just a nice place to go for a walk.” (CS, AD) +44.20.7930.1793, www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/st_james_park/

ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELDS Trafalgar Square working church is highly recommended for its “lunchtime classical concerts and jazz nights.” (BM) +44.20.7766.1100, www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org

TATE MODERN Newest of the four Tate Museums is “great for children as well as adults, because the art is quite interactive.” For special exhibitions, inquire with your concierge about procuring timed tickets “so you don’t have to queue up.” (MDC, BM, CS) +44.20.7887.8888, www.tate.org.uk/modern

TOWER OF LONDON Check with your concierge to arrange a private evening tour of this 11th-century tower that is “steeped in history,” including its use over the ages as a prison and execution chamber. “If you’re born in London, they take you there at about five years of age to frighten you.” (MB, BM, GM, CS, MW) +44.20.3166.6000, www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon

VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM “The most asked about museum in London” is “not boring and fuddy-duddy, like so many museums.” Also “popular” as a private events venue. (MDC, AD, CS) +44.20.7942.2000, www.vam.ac.uk

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